Prosperity in Knowledge Society
Blogging Alone examines web logs as a social phenomenon and suggest that social software applications like web logging, email, and messenger are central to the prosperity of knowledge society(pdf). You will see that when information communication technologies become a part of everyday life these collaborative group forming software applications become a powerful platform for the formation of human and social capital.
Here we are less interested in tracking the frequency and use of the Internet, its technology and trends. For this article it is more valuable to understand common social and economic principles that are extensible to work when solving unanticipated design challenges.
When you understand the goals and motivations of your users it becomes easer to make decisions that lead to beneficial outcomes. If you are a software designer or responsible for determining the policies about the use of information communication technologies working with design principles based on an understanding of human behaviors and a model for the economics of an idea economy will yield many positive benefits both economic and social.
When considering new types of computer applications, like FM Radio web log app, always remember your users have the pesky habit of being human and will refuse to change their habits when pursuing their goals each day. Don't expect economic productivity as an automatic result from everyday use of new applications and computer technologies. Without changes in the organization and modifications to daily practices, adding new technology often makes the organization less productive.
Your goal when designing these changes should be:
Tom Shuller in his recent article "The Complementary Roles of Human and Social Capital" presents a framework that shows education levels are tightly correlated with levels of social capital. Social software applications together with modifications to daily practices that help you achieve the goals will lead to the accumulation of both human and social capital.
Aggregate increases of both human and social capital will lead to many positive outcomes. Some reported side effects to high levels of social capital are reduced corruption in government, increased levels of trust, self reported happiness, and the formation of new communities of practice. We remember that you are in business to make money. Increased stocks of human and social capital will in time provide you with many opportunities to convert these newly increased stocks into two other more notable forms of capital, namely physical, and finical capital. Both these forms will have a positive effect on happiness of your share holders.